From the 10th-21st October 2019, some of the very best players from planet Earth made their way to the Isle of Man to compete in a FIDE qualifier for the world chess championships. Having a spare week or two available, I also decided to tag along, and played in the Major, a side event running alongside the Masters event.
Whilst the main event featured a brutally strong field, with players from all corners of the globe competing; the Major, (my section), featured a very international looking line up to. Players from England, Wales, Russia, Georgia, Australia, Portugal, Isle of Man, Sweden, Germany, USA, Netherlands and Romania all played alongside myself in the Major. Two of the competitors were FIDE Masters, albeit relatively speaking, very low rated ones.
If we include the Minor section, further players from Israel, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, France and India also competed. That's quite an array of nations represented, and that's not even including the Masters line up!
The tournament was very enjoyable, with complimentary daily refreshments available; (tea, coffee, water and fizzy drinks), for competitors to enjoy. There are very few tournaments where these are provided free of charge. In fact, this is the only one I know of that does this, at least for chess players of mortal status anyway!
In addition, there were a couple of complimentary magazines for each competitor, and a free buffet, and beverage of choice from the bar, were provided on the final night. Add to this the excellent prize money on offer, and this makes for a great annual event.
A highlight for me was a win against Russian FM, Aleksandr Bujakevich, (it sounds quite Russain, doesn't it!) I tried a gambit line which I like to play from time to time, and I managed to win quite a nice game in the end.
Anyway, after 7 days, I managed to finish joint first in my section when the dust had settled, and I had the bonus of being declared the winner on tiebreak. Apparently, the sum of my opponent's progressive scores was greater than those of my co-winners opponent's progressive scores. Or something along those lines! In any case, I enjoyed the event, and managed to gain a few rating points along the way!
One feature of the tournament was that a free bus service was provided from Douglas to the host venue; the Comis Hotel and Golf Resort, which, by the way, was a very nice venue to play in. Anyway, as many of the top players were staying in Douglas, I got to share the same bus as them. As well as some of the best women players in the world, stars like Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen also shared the same bus as myself' and my co competitors, to the venue.
Well, it's not every day you get to share a bus with the world's elite chess players, is it?